By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com January 16, 2012 at 9:01AM
The third Monday in January is popularly known in Hollywood circles as "hungover-as-shit Monday," as it immediately follows the Golden Globes, the award season's drunker, more badly-behaved little cousin. Among all the questions raised by the Golden Globes last night (What was the point of asking a defanged Ricky Gervais back? How did we get to the point where "W.E" can legitimately be described as an award-winning film? Is Johnny Depp Irish now or something? What is "Episodes"?), the one we come back to here is whether or not the Globes are really a force when it comes to predicting how the Oscars will turn out.
And the answer, as we said around nomination time, is mostly no, but a little bit of yes. For one, no one takes the Globes particularly seriously - only three times in the last decade have the Globes managed to mirror the Academy's Best Picture choice, and they get two stabs at picking thanks to the Musical/Comedy category. For an another, Oscar ballots closed on Friday, so anyone wanting to change their picks based on the winners last night would have to break into Pricewaterhouse Coopers in order to do so. But again, it can be useful both as a way of spotting where the wind is blowing, and also in giving a boost for certain films and faces.
First among them, "The Descendants." We wrote on Friday that, with "The Artist" in the comedy/musical category, whoever won out of the nominated dramas would end up anointed as the biggest potential competitor to the silent film, and while "The Help" or "Hugo" could easily have stepped in, it was "The Descendants" that swept in at the last minute with the one-two punch of Best Actor (for George Clooney) and Best Picture. We still have a number of reservations about its chances of winning -- there's a lot of love for the film, but it doesn't seem like the number one choice -- but those who don't like "The Artist" could end up uniting behind it, particularly as a recognition of Alexander Payne and George Clooney's work to date.
The other big winner of the night? Harvey Weinstein. The long-time awards don had a few years of relatively sparse success on the circuit during the early years of The Weinstein Company, but the boom of "The King's Speech" seems to have given him renewed confidence, and his scattershot technique of buying multiple contenders and launching them simultaneously seems to have paid off in a big way this time around -- the company didn't just win the big prize for "The Artist," but six in total, including awards for the critically derided "The Iron Lady" and "W.E." Clearly, if anyone knows how to deal with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, it's Harv, and his haul should continue at the Oscars.
And then, more significantly, there are the acting categories. Christopher Plummer continued his sweep, and if there's anyone who's a a surefire winner at the Academy, it's him. But across the gender divide, Supporting Actress was, until a week ago, the most wide open of the categories, with Jessica Chastain and Berenice Bejo from "The Artist," both picking up a number of wins. But with back-to-back honors from the Critics' Choice Awards and the Globes, "The Help" star Octavia Spencer is now the clear front-runner in the category, particularly after a pair of moving speeches. There's still a way to go, and the vote still may end up being split between "The Help" actresses, leaving Bejo to step in, but Spencer has the momentum behind her.
Otherwise, Best Actress is looking like a two-horse-race; despite Michelle Williams' win last night, we can't see her being a serious contender. Instead, Viola Davis, who didn't win at the Globes, and Meryl Streep, who did, are leading the pack. Streep winning helps keep her at the front of the conversation, and, while we suspect Davis still has the advantage, it could honestly end up being either.
But the man who got the biggest boost of the night was "The Artist" star Jean Dujardin. The French actor, who doesn't speak a lot of English, has had some disadvantages on the circuit -- he can't gladhand in the way that some of his competition, and he's relatively unfamiliar to the world at large still. But as far as coming-out parties go, Dujardin nailed it, charming the pants off the audience, taking full advantage of that million-dollar smile, he couldn't have been more endearing. Clooney's win last night might keep him as the front-runner, but Dujardin's certianly his biggest competition.
Otherwise, Best Director is looking like one of the more interesting categories, and Martin Scorsese's victory last night keeps us guessing. Michel Hazanavicius' isn't necessarily the lock the director of a Best Picture front-runner usually is, thanks in part to his relatively low profile -- the Academy tends to lean towards established names. As such, almost anyone could step in here, and, while the HFPA love nothing more than honoring Scorsese (who makes this his third win in the last decade, after "Gangs of New York" and "The Departed"), he's got to be seen as a serious threat in the category, even if the Best Picture chances for "Hugo" aren't great.
Otherwise, Woody Allen, "The Artist" composer Ludovic Bource and "A Separation" both continue in their front-runner position in their respective categories, while "The Adventures of Tintin" picked up animation. Interestingly, it's not even guaranteed a nomination at the Oscars as the Academy's animation branch may end up kicking against the performance-capture nature of the film. But, while its Globes win is likely a Spielberg-baiting indication of the HFPA's starfuckery, it does suggest that, should 'Tintin' get nominated, "Rango" has some competition.
Ultimately, however, a night with no shocks, and little that's turned the race on the head. But then, it is the Golden Globes, so that was to be expected. We'll be back tomorrow with the equally irrelevant BAFTA nominations, and look for our final Oscar nomination predictions on Friday.